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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Friday, March 31, 2006

New York Daily News - Ideas & Opinions - Errol Louis: Blacks need a culture war

New York Daily News - Ideas & Opinions - Errol Louis: Blacks need a culture warBlacks need a culture war

The 2006 edition of "The State of Black America," published every year by the National Urban League, arrived this week to little fanfare, and has been duly ignored by most mainstream press outlets. The actual news contained in the 250-page parade of charts, tables, essays and factoids amounts to the six words that most people already knew would capture the state of Black America this year: Not so great, could be better.

The Urban League chief Marc Morial and other reporters on the "State of Black America" - including Prof. Ronald Mincy of Columbia University and Tavis Smiley, whose "Covenant With Black America" recently hit The New York Times best-seller list - should consider an alternative to the annual recital of statistics and essays on inequality and other social ills afflicting black folk.

What we need is a culture war.

Specifically, we need aggressive, concerted action by members and institutions of the respectable black middle class to do open combat against the rise of an ancient enemy: a bold, seductive street culture that exalts lawlessness, addiction and anti-family behavior like pimping, sexual promiscuity, ignorance and personal selfishness.

Smiley and civil rights leaders like Jesse Jackson tend to gloss over a split that has run through black culture for more than a century: the need to choose between the narcissistic pursuit of short-term pleasure and the plodding but rewarding business of building strong families and communities, where learning is sacred and the needs of the next generation trump the cravings of the moment.

In other words, black Americans need to talk more about culture. We need to fight over it.

My former professor, Orlando Patterson of Harvard, recently weighed in on the topic in The New York Times, scolding black leaders for "the rejection of any explanation that invokes a group's cultural attributes - its distinctive attitudes, values and predispositions, and the resulting behavior of its members - and the relentless preference for relying on structural factors like low incomes, joblessness, poor schools and bad housing."

Patterson, citing the fieldwork of one of his students, found structural inequality aggravated by an implicit acceptance within black communities of a lot of the joblessness, criminality and other negatives that lie behind the statistics.

"What sociologists call the 'cool-pose culture' of young black men was simply too gratifying to give up," Patterson wrote. "For these young men, it was almost like a drug, hanging out on the street after school, shopping and dressing sharply, sexual conquests, party drugs, hip-hop music and culture."

That mirage of street life tempts countless kids to discard the virtues of education, hard work and personal decency.

More teachers, preachers, politicians, journalists and other black Americans with a pulpit need to enlist in the battle against the self-defeating lure of street culture. That means putting off the usual run of statistics and studies that analyze social inequality in minute detail, and doing upfront combat against The Big Lie pumped out hour after hour by Hollywood, Madison Avenue, radio stations, the recording industry and other purveyors of vulgarity and irresponsibility.

A few leaders, like the Rev. Eugene Rivers in Boston and my colleague Stanley Crouch, have already taken up the fight in earnest. But they can't do it alone.

All we are saying is give war a chance.

Originally published on March 31, 200

Digital Divide Closing as Blacks Turn to Internet - New York Times

Digital Divide Closing as Blacks Turn to Internet - New York TimesMarch 31, 2006


African-Americans are steadily gaining access to and ease with the Internet, signaling a remarkable closing of the "digital divide" that many experts had worried would be a crippling disadvantage in achieving success.

Civil rights leaders, educators and national policy makers warned for years that the Internet was bypassing blacks and some Hispanics as whites and Asian-Americans were rapidly increasing their use of it.

But the falling price of laptops, more computers in public schools and libraries and the newest generation of cellphones and hand-held devices that connect to the Internet have all contributed to closing the divide, Internet experts say.

Another powerful influence in attracting blacks and other minorities to the Internet has been the explosive evolution of the Internet itself, once mostly a tool used by researchers, which has become a cultural crossroad of work, play and social interaction.

Studies and mounting anecdotal evidence now suggest that blacks, even some of those at the lower end of the economic scale, are making significant gains. As a result, organizations that serve African-Americans, as well as companies seeking their business, are increasingly turning to the Internet to reach out to them.

"What digital divide?" Magic Johnson, the basketball legend, asked rhetorically in an interview about his new Internet campaign deal with the Ford Motor Company's Lincoln Mercury division to use the Internet to promote cars to black prospective buyers.

The sharpest growth in Internet access and use is among young people. But blacks and other members of minorities of various ages are also merging onto the digital information highway as never before.

According to a Pew national survey of people 18 and older, completed in February, 74 percent of whites go online, 61 percent of African-Americans do and 80 percent of English-speaking Hispanic-Americans report using the Internet. The survey did not look at non-English-speaking Hispanics, who some experts believe are not gaining access to the Internet in large numbers.

In a similar Pew survey in 1998, just 42 percent of white American adults said they used the Internet while only 23 percent of African-American adults did so. Forty percent of English-speaking Hispanic-Americans said they used the Internet.

Despite the dissolving gap, some groups like the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network, which introduces digital technologies to young people, say the digital divide is still vast in more subtle ways. Instant messaging and downloading music is one thing, said Marlon Orozco, program manager at the network's Boston clubhouse, but he would like to see black and Hispanic teenagers use the Internet in more challenging ways, like building virtual communities or promoting their businesses.

Vicky Rideout, vice president of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which has studied Internet use by race, ethnicity and age, cautioned that a new dimension of the digital divide might be opening because groups that were newer to the Internet tended to use less-advanced hardware and had slower connection speeds.

"The type and meaningful quality of access is, in some ways, a more challenging divide that remains," Ms. Rideout said. "This has an impact on things like homework."

In addition, Internet access solely at institutions can put students at a disadvantage. Schools and other institutions seldom operate round the clock, seven days a week, which is especially an issue for students, said Andy Carvin, coordinator for the Digital Divide Network, an international group that seeks to close the gap.

But not everyone agrees that minorities tend toward less-advanced use of the Internet. Pippa Norris, a lecturer on comparative politics at Harvard who has written extensively about the digital divide, said members of minorities had been shown to use the Internet to search for jobs and to connect to a wide variety of educational opportunities.

"The simple assumption that the Internet is a luxury is being disputed by this group," Ms. Norris said.

The divide was considered so dire a decade ago that scholars, philanthropists and even President Bill Clinton in his 1996 State of the Union address fretted over just what the gap would mean in lost educational and employment opportunities for young people who were not wired.

In an effort to help erase the divide, the federal government has provided low-cost connections for schools, libraries, hospitals and health clinics, allocated money to expand in-home access to computers and the Internet for low-income families and given tax incentives to companies donating computer and technical training and for sponsoring community learning centers.

As a result of such efforts, "most kids, almost all kids, have a place in which they can go online and have gone online," said Ms. Rideout of the Kaiser foundation.

Jason Jordan of Boston is one of the young people closing the divide. Jason, 17, who is black, is getting a used computer from an older brother. He said he had wanted a computer for years, since "I heard about a lot that I was missing."

Jason said he had access to the Internet at school, where he is pursuing a general equivalency diploma, but looked forward to having his own computer and Web access at his home in the Dorchester section of Boston. "I can work in my own place and don't have to worry about the time I'm online," he said.

Like Jason, almost 9 out of 10 of the 21 million Americans ages 12 to 17 use the Internet, according to a report issued in July by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Of them, 87 percent of white teenagers say they use the Internet, while 77 percent of black teenagers and 89 percent of Hispanic teenagers say they have access to it, the report said.

The gap in access among young Americans is less pronounced than among their parents' generation, said Susannah Fox, associate director of the Pew project. "Age continues to be a strong predictor for Internet use," Ms. Fox said.

While, overall Internet use among blacks still significantly trails use among whites, the shrinking divide is most vividly reflected in the online experience of people like Billy and Barbara Johnson. Less than two years ago, the Johnsons, who are black, plugged into the Internet in their upscale suburban home near Atlanta for the first time. Mrs. Johnson, a 52-year-old mother of four and homemaker, said she felt she had little choice because her school-age children needed to use the Internet for research.

And then there is e-mail. "No one really wants to take the time anymore to pick up the phone and keep in touch," lamented Mrs. Johnson, who said that so much of the communications with her children's school was done through e-mail correspondence. "I felt like I was pretty much forced into it."

Even so, Mrs. Johnson said her husband, an assistant coach for the Atlanta Falcons, still chided her when she neglected to check her e-mail at least every day.

Ms. Norris and other experts on Internet use see progress on the horizon. They note that the declining cost of laptop and other computers, and efforts, like those in Philadelphia, to provide low-cost wireless Internet access, are likely to increase online access for groups that have been slow to connect.

Philanthropic efforts have also helped to give more people Internet access. For example, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $250 million since 1997 for American public libraries to create Internet access for the public. Martha Choe, the foundation's director of global libraries, said some 47,000 computers had been bought for 11,000 libraries. Today, Ms. Choe said, most libraries in the United States have public Internet access.

Education levels remain a major indicator of who is among the 137 million Americans using the Internet and who is not, said Ms. Fox.

There is also a strong correlation, experts say, between household income and Internet access.

With so many more members of minorities online, some Web sites are trying to capitalize on their new access. For example, the New York/New Jersey region of the State of the African American Male, a national initiative to improve conditions for black men, is encouraging men to use digital equipment to "empower themselves" to better their lives. The site, which includes studies, public policy reports and other information about issues related to black men, promotes using digital cameras, mobile phones and iPods, but mainly computers, to organize through the Internet, said Walter Fields, vice president for government relations for the Community Service Society, an antipoverty organization, and a coordinator of the black-male initiative. Users are encouraged to submit articles, write blogs and upload pertinent photographs and video clips.

"What we're doing is playing against the popular notion of a digital divide," Mr. Fields said. "I always felt that it was a misnomer."

:: ::

:: ::ATL

Release Date: 2006

Ebert Rating: ***

BY ROGER EBERT / Mar 31, 2006

Since their parents died in a car crash, Rashad and Anton have been living with their Uncle George, or maybe he's been living with them, since it was their parents' house. Rashad is 17, a high school senior, working part time to save money for his kid brother "to make it out of here" -- out of their poor black neighborhood in Atlanta. Anton, known as "Ant," sees a faster route, standing on a corner selling drugs for a local dealer.

But no, "ATL" isn't a drug movie, and it doesn't send its characters on a harrowing journey into danger. It's a film about growing up and working, about falling in love, about planning for your future, and about the importance of friends. For Rashad (Tip Harris), the best day of the week is Sunday, because that's when he and three friends head for the Cascade, a roller rink where they show off with intricately choreographed moves on the floor.

Rashad's friends are Esquire (Jackie Long), Teddy (Jason Weaver) and Brooklyn (Albert Daniels). They're solid and will last for a lifetime. Esquire, who has top grades, is a waiter at a country club, where he meets the black millionaire John Garnett (Keith David). He needs a letter of recommendation to go with his Ivy League scholarship application. Garnett is happy to give him one, and to invite the smart, polite kid to his mansion on the other side of town. And that's when ...

But let's back up to New-New (Lauren London). Rashad meets her at the Cascade, they like each other, they start spending time together, and it looks like love. But there is something she doesn't tell him -- although she almost does, before he interrupts her. I'm not going to reveal her secret, except to say that it threatens to sink their romance and their trust in each other. And for a while it looks like it may destroy Rashad's friendship with Esquire.

What this plot outline doesn't describe is the warmth and heart of "ATL," which is about good kids more or less raising themselves. Uncle George is not a bad man, and at 41 he has been a janitor long enough to plead with his nephews to get themselves an education. But when he finds out Ant is selling drugs, his immediate reaction is pragmatic: "We can always use some money in this house." Rashad is a lot more disturbed, and takes action.

But even before that, the movie offers an unusual portrait of the 14-year-old as drug dealer. Yes, he works for a guy with a big, expensive car (the rumbles of the sound system are an advance warning system). But Ant's own job is to stand on a corner, hour after hour, lonely, cold, hungry, scared, not making much money and then getting that stolen. The movie is lacking the false sense of empowerment that sometimes seems to surround drugs in the movies.

Apart from its other qualities, which are real, the movie has a lot of music. The director, Chris Robinson, has made many music videos, and two of his actors are rap artists: Tip Harris records as T.I. (and did a lot of the sound track) and Antwon Andre Patton records as Big Boi. Their music, plus the mix at the Cascade, creates a sound track that drives the movie, especially in the roller-skating scenes, which are choreographed to make the rink look like a magical place. And yes, there is a Cascade in Atlanta and it's is just as popular as it seems in the movie. I know this because my wife is visiting relatives and they took her to the Cascade and she called me half an hour ago and was having a great time. Small world.

The screenplay, by Tina Gordon Chism, is based on a story by Antwone Fisher, and do I have to say, yes, that Antwone Fisher? I doubt "ATL" is as autobiographical as his 2002 film, but it reflects lives of focus and determination; Rashad and his friends are young and sometimes foolish and like to party, but they're also smart and determined to survive and prevail. That's why Rashad can't understand it when ... well, you'll find out if you see the film.

What I liked most was its unforced, genuine affection for its characters. Rashad likes his friends, and so do we. He realizes Uncle George is not a paragon, but Mykelti Williamson has a strong scene where he defends his life from his point of view. He's 41, no wife, pushing a broom, trying to hold a home together for two nephews he didn't ask for, and he's doing his best. I sense that somewhere in the film, if we know where to look, maybe in the support of Uncle George, the friendships involving Rashad, Esquire and New-New, we can find clues about how Antwone Fisher evolved from a kid with a shaky future into a screenwriter with a big one.

Cast & Credits

Rashad: Tip Harris
New-New: Lauren London
Anton "Ant" Swann: Evan Ross
John Garnett: Keith David
Esquire: Jackie Long
Brooklyn: Albert Daniels
Uncle George: Mykelti Williamson
Marcus: Antwan Andre Patton

Warner Bros. Pictures presents a film directed by Chris Robinson. Written by Tina Gordon Chism. Based on the story by Antwone Fisher. Running time: 105 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for drug content, language, sexual material and some violence).

Friday, March 24, 2006

US government supports Apple stand on French law - Engadget

US government supports Apple stand on French law - EngadgetUS government supports Apple stand on French law

Posted Mar 23rd 2006 6:30PM by Marc Perton
Filed under: Portable Audio
In what's shaping up to be the biggest Franco-American battle since US lawmakers renamed their favorite side dish "Freedom Fries," the US government has now declared its support for Apple in the company's dispute with France over DRM interoperability. US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, questioned about the case on CNBC, declared that he would "compliment [Apple] because we need for companies to also stand up for their intellectual property rights. At issue is a draft law that would require Apple and other companies to open up their DRM to competitors or allow consumers to do so on their own, so that music purchased in an online music store could be played in any manufacturer's digital audio player. Earlier this week, Apple referred to the French bill as part of a "state-sponsored culture of piracy." While Guiterrez didn't say whether the US government would do anything specific on Apple's behalf, he did say that it's a good policy to "have the government work with other governments." We assume this will continue to escalate, and it'll only be a matter of days before French students start burning iPods in the streets and Americans retaliate by torching Archos Gminis. And it looks like the cafeteria in Cupertino will have to start serving iToast for breakfast.

Tech Law Advisor : blog : Lawyers and blogging go together like witches and stoning

Tech Law Advisor : blog : Lawyers and blogging go together like witches and stoningLawyers and blogging go together like witches and stoning
Posted March 24, 2006 08:19 AM

Cameron Stracher in today's WSJ ("According to a survey conducted by, lawyers ranked fourth among both readers and posters to blogs. Many of the best- known blogs, such as, are run by lawyers. It's easy to understand why blogging attracts the J.D. set: Few professions combine as much creative talent with so much mind-numbing work."

Also discusses Wonkette, Opinionistas lawyers turned fiction writers and recommends that a happy lawyer should start a blog about their work.

Cornell Law School > Supreme Court collection

certiorari to the supreme court of georgia
No. 04–1067. Argued November 8, 2005—Decided March 22, 2006

Respondent’s estranged wife gave police permission to search the marital residence for items of drug use after respondent, who was also present, had unequivocally refused to give consent. Respondent was indicted for possession of cocaine, and the trial court denied his motion to suppress the evidence as products of a warrantless search unauthorized by consent. The Georgia Court of Appeals reversed. In affirming, the State Supreme Court held that consent given by one occupant is not valid in the face of the refusal of another physically present occupant, and distinguished United States v. Matlock, 415 U. S. 164 , which recognized the permissibility of an entry made with the consent of one co-occupant in the other’s absence.

Held: In the circumstances here at issue, a physically present co-occupant’s stated refusal to permit entry renders warrantless entry and search unreasonable and invalid as to him. Pp. 4–19.

New York Daily News - News & Views Columnists - Stanley Crouch: Separate & unequal

New York Daily News - News & Views Columnists - Stanley Crouch: Separate & unequalSeparate & unequal

It seems that some of us are committing intellectual suicide. It is undeclared and unrecognized by its victims, men of the black lower class. By contrast, both black women and the black middle class seem to be doing fine, better and better, in fact.

Recognition of this phenomenon is widespread. All this week I received telephone calls and spoke with people from across the country who were disturbed by recent studies showing that lower-class black men are falling further and further behind everyone in society, including Hispanics. Three-quarters of black high school dropouts are suffering from unemployment and a lack of job skills. The unemployment figures are much higher than for their white and Hispanic counterparts.

One person said to me that there is no need to be embarrassed or especially upset because what is going on can easily be explained - or at least understood. The black lower class is not only separated from America as a whole, it is also separated from those principles that have helped the black middle class do the most that it could for itself.

Once upon a time, black lower class did not mean welfare dependents, teenage mothers and young men who had served time before they were in their mid-20s. It once meant blue-collar workers, almost all of whom agreed that knowledge would result in freedom, while ignorance would result in slavery.

At that time, those who were in the black middle class usually lived in the black community, meaning that children had flesh-and-blood models of success. Desegregation, however, meant that black middle-class people moved to the suburbs and other places.

So, as one black man who works for Princeton University says, "You cannot be surprised if a population of young men who live on media images fail to believe in books if most of what they see and can relate to comes from hip-hop fantasies and professional athletes."

What it amounts to is that certain principles that were in place at least since the end of slavery have eroded.

Originally, perhaps because there was once such resistance to black education, achieving an education became a high cultural goal. Taking care of one's family and staying out of jail were also high achievements.

But with the fall of shame and the emergence of a cultural relativity that would seem to accept almost any kind of behavior, things have gone badly for black males. Once the pimp or the hustler was no longer thought of as slime and started to be seen as just another guy working his way through capitalism, black lower-class values had reached the bottom.

Now that we are there, it is important to understand that the job ahead for our society is not introducing something new but reasserting a set of survival principles based on excellence, which once had a strong position and can have one again.

Originally published on March 23, 2006

Monday, March 20, 2006

United Press International - Security & Terrorism - Film warns of military-industrial complex

United Press International - Security & Terrorism - Film warns of military-industrial complexFilm warns of military-industrial complex


WASHINGTON, March 18 (UPI) -- In his new documentary, "Why We Fight," director Eugene Jarecki examines the growth of the United States' military-industrial complex from after World War II up to today's controversial war in Iraq.

"Back then, the reasons (for war) were clear -- fascism, genocide, oppression," Jarecki, who also directed 2002's "The Trials of Henry Kissinger," says on the movie's Web site. "Today, if you ask people why we are fighting in Iraq, I think the reasons are far less clear."

The movie, the Grand Jury Prize winner at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, focuses on the topics of preemption, the industry of war and global economic colonialism by the United States. The documentary uses no real narrator; instead telling a story through interviews with bomber pilots, government employees, politicians and average American citizens in 30 states as it unveils a war-dependent U.S. culture.

The film opens with President Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1961 farewell speech, in which he predicted the problems a permanently militarized United States would have.

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex," Eisenhower said in the speech, often championed by Jarecki throughout the film. "The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

From there, Jarecki interviews the pilots who dropped the first bombs on Iraq in 2003, a Vietnamese war survivor turned tactical weapons expert and recounts the tale of Wilton Sekzer, a retired New York City policeman who lost his son in the Sept. 11, 2001 mega-terror attacks. After the attacks, Sekzer contacted the armed forces, and eventually got his son's name on a bomb that later fell on Iraq.

After President George W. Bush confirmed that Iraq had played no part in the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, Sekzer felt exploited for his patriotism.

"Am I sorry I asked for my son's name to be put on the bomb?" Sekzer muses. "No, because I acted under the conditions at the time. Was it wrong? Yeah, it was wrong, but I didn't know that."

Rather than using the heavy-handed approach that another documentary film-maker Michael Moore took in "Fahrenheit 9/11," Jarecki stays behind-the-scenes throughout the movie, allowing his interviewees to do the talking. Though Jarecki maintains he interviewed a conservative majority, it would be a lie to say "Why We Fight" doesn't take a liberal slant. Despite the biased angle, conservative voices receive an opportunity to comment on the film's issues, most notably military preemption.

"What's the big fuss about preemption?" says former Defense Department official and neo-conservative Richard Perle. "You'd shoot first if someone was planning to shoot you right?"

The movie separates itself from simple anti-Bush critiques by offering a broader cultural study, both historically and geographically. An especially powerful segment of the film shows a world map that is then chronologically peppered with U.S. military conflicts from World War II until the present.

The United States' support of and then subsequent hostility towards foreign nations is also a talking point, punctuated by the image of current Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein in 1983.

In contrast to the critiques against preemption and the United States' economic war machine is the story of George Solomon, a 23-year-old who signs up to be an army pilot after his mother dies. Solomon represents the thousands of people who turn to the military as the answer for their life's complications.

"These three problems: my mother's death, my financial hardship and my inability to complete my education," Solomon says. "All of these problems are gonna be solved by my enlistment in the military."

If Eisenhower is the hero in "Why We Fight," the villain must be Vice President Dick Cheney, who is identified as a former weapons contractor and personifies the idea of war as a business. Cheney's economic impact on the military is thoroughly criticized by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who is interrupted while panning Cheney on-camera by a phone call from the vice president himself.

While at times the movie seems to only raise more questions rather than answers, one strong message is for the United States to remember its political and military history. Scattering the film's 98 minutes are quotes from Presidents George Washington and Eisenhower that warn of the dangers of a U.S. permanent military presence. Using techniques like this, Jarecki sends a clear message the United States must avoid becoming what author Gore Vidal calls the "United States of Amnesia."

Sunday, March 19, 2006

New York Daily News - Ideas & Opinions - Stanley Crouch: A must-see view into New York's painful history

New York Daily News - Ideas & Opinions - Stanley Crouch: A must-see view into New York's painful historyA must-see view into New York's painful history

While many were undoubtedly surprised last October by an entire exhibit at the New-York Historical Society devoted to slavery in this state, they shouldn't have been. After all, a mile-long common grave was unearthed downtown in 1991 and became known as "the African Burial Ground." Historians believe as many as 15,000 slaves were buried there. Those thousands of anonymous downtown cadavers formed a temple of bones, enshrined evidence of New York's involvement in what has become known as "the peculiar institution."

Yes, there was slavery up here in the wonderful North just like there was in the terrible South. The "Slavery in New York" exhibit - already viewed by more than 60,000 students from more than 1,000 schools and now extended until March 26 - should not be missed. Understanding American slavery is essential to understanding American history and American issues.

It all comes down to a single fact: Black people were sold as work animals here from the early 1600s until 1827. They were chattel slaves for more than 150 years before the formation of the United States. At the time of the Revolutionary War there were more slaves in New York than anywhere other than a selling hub in South Carolina.

Slaves were a contradiction to the country's system of values. Opposed by determined Christians, who believed that all of mankind began in Eden, slavery became an ever hotter issue until Abraham Lincoln became President, the Civil War broke out and the plantation system was deservedly brought down in blood, dust and flame.

The New-York Historical Society tells the story of slavery in New York across 200 years, including such objects as a daguerreotype of a slave named Caesar who outlived three masters and a listing of the first 11 Africans brought to New York as slaves.

"Slavery in New York" has its positive moments, including the depiction of the American abolition movement, as full of honor and bravery as any other great American story. There is plenty to be learned here about those people, whether black or white, who stood up against the bloody constraints of a system that failed to acknowledge the humanity of the enslaved.

This struggle clarifies the importance of self-criticism to Western civilization and shows how the American people can shift - sometimes after a long struggle - from superstitions such as racism to enlightened policies.

The society's director of communications, Laura Washington, says that before this exhibit, "There was no formal teaching of the history of slavery in New York. That is now changing, and the enrichment of public education is one of the great goals of any museum."

The exhibit is sobering in its tragic dimensions and inspiring in its focus on those New York men and women who called for the liberation of the slave population. Those abolitionists foreshadowed what became the internationally recognized spirit of New York: a force focused as much on freedom as anything else.

The New-York Historical Society, at Central Park West and 77th St., can be contacted at (212) 873-3400.

Originally published on March 13, 2006

NPR : Georgia Wrestles with Death-Penalty Issues

NPR : Georgia Wrestles with Death-Penalty IssuesGeorgia Wrestles with Death-Penalty Issues

Listen to this story...

by Kathy Lohr

Weekend Edition Sunday, March 19, 2006 · The American Bar Association wants a death-penalty moratorium in states where it finds legal shortcomings. One example: Georgia provides no public defenders for death-row inmates beyond an initial round of appeals.

Friday, March 17, 2006

NPR : O'Connor's Low-Key Last Days on High Court

NPR : O'Connor's Low-Key Last Days on High CourtO'Connor's Low-Key Last Days on High Court

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Talk of the Nation, February 1, 2006 · USA Today reporter and author Joan Biskupic talks about the Supreme Court after Sandra Day O'Connor.

Joan Biskupic, legal affairs correspondent for USA Today; author of the book Sandra Day O'Connor: How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became Its Most Influential Justice - Judicious temperament: Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor speaks up against political attacks on courts. - Judicious temperament: Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor speaks up against political attacks on courts.March 16, 2006, 8:33PM

Judicious temperament
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor speaks up against political attacks on courts.
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

ON or off the bench, Supreme Court justices tend to be discreet about the court's relationship to politics. So when a former justice breaks her dignified silence — as Sandra Day O'Connor did in a startling speech last week — the comments carry gravitas. Her words bore even more weight because she cited specific acts by politicians and warningly employed the word "dictatorship."
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O'Connor, who resigned last month, spoke March 9 at Georgetown University. No tapes or transcripts were released, and the lone reporter present was Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio. Totenberg reported that in her speech O'Connor, a Republican, savaged Republican threats to punish the court for its interpretations of the law.

The courts, O'Connor reportedly said, expect at times to make lawmakers and the president angry, but the courts' effectiveness "is premised on the notion that we won't be subject to retaliation for our judicial acts."

O'Connor then singled out by deed, though not by name, two Texas politicians for their verbal attacks upon the court for doing its job. Last year, criticizing federal and state court rulings that allowed Terry Schiavo's vegetative state to end in death, then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said, "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior."

In a similar vein, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, himself a former justice on the Texas Supreme Court, publicly mused that political or ideological decisions by unaccountable judges might be to blame for episodes of courthouse violence. His comments followed the murders of a Georgia judge and the family of a federal judge in Illinois.

These comments were deemed reprehensible at the time. When a former U.S. Supreme Court justice with exquisite political sense cites them as part of a national trend, the public should pay attention.

If additional motivation for public concern were needed, the Associated Press reported Thursday that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, in a speech last month in South Africa, said she and O'Connor had received death threats alluding to Republican criticism of the high court.

O'Connor, a former Arizona state senator, is accustomed to political jostling. But, as she rightly said last week, democracy itself is jeopardized when critiques metastasize into threats over specific rulings. Such judicial bullying, O'Connor pointed out, is how dictators thrive in former Communist and Third World countries. She reportedly added, "It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings."

Lawmakers have a duty to speak out if they perceive wrongdoing. But it's imperative that they avoid threatening the courts with political retaliation, or seeming to justify or excuse violent attacks against judges.

Congress has the power to impeach federal jurists and abolish lower courts or limit their jurisdiction. Legislators' hard-worded threats against jurists cannot be disregarded as empty.

Unchecked by vigilant citizens, "naked partisan reasoning," to use O'Connor's phrase, could disastrously alter the federal courts' equipoise with Congress and the White House.

O'Connor did the country a service by lending her stature to a warning against reckless threats upon the judiciary. As a private citizen with unique credibility, she owes something more. She should make public a transcript of her comments and detail her concerns so more Americans can hear them. The time for discreet silence has passed.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

WXIA - Woman Killed in Stolen Car Dispute

WXIA - Woman Killed in Stolen Car DisputeWoman Killed in Stolen Car Dispute

Atlanta police found close to two dozen shell casings, one of them from a semi-automatic weapon, at the scene of a shootout that left a 26-year-old woman dead in Southwest Atlanta.

The victim, her brothers, and a cousin apparently tried to stop some men who they suspected of stealing their family's 2003 black Chevy Impala earlier in the day. The Impala was being followed by a blue Crown Victoria. The relatives approached the people in both cars and, police said, a shootout started.

"They forced the vehicle to stop so the two vehicles stopped. A male then exited the Crown Vic, walked toward the vehicle that you see here, the Pontiac that the two males were in, and opened fire on the car. The Pontiac driver sped off, two of the shots struck a female who was inside the car," said Sgt. Bob Creasy.

The woman, her brothers, and cousin sped from the scene to get away from the gunshots and ended up on James P. Brawley Drive. There, the siblings realized their sister had suffered a gunshot wound to the chest. She later died at Grady Memorial Hospital. The relatives who were inside the car with the woman are being interviewed.

"They might have thought, no one maybe think it's gonna end it this way but it turns into a gunfight," said Sgt. Creasy. "It's certainly not worth getting killed over."

A man who goes by the street name "Basher" is being sought by Atlanta police. He is 18 to 20 years old and believed to be driving the blue Crown Victoria. Basher was wearing an orange skull cap and has a burn mark on his face. - News - Car Thieves Kill Woman Who Tracked Them Down - News - Car Thieves Kill Woman Who Tracked Them DownCar Thieves Kill Woman Who Tracked Them Down

POSTED: 6:00 am EST March 16, 2006

ATLANTA -- A woman who helped her brother find his stolen car was killed Wednesday night for her trouble.

Police say the car thieves gunned down the woman when she confronted them in southwest Atlanta.

Investigators tell Channel 2 Action News that the 26-year old victim and her brother were driving around looking for his stolen car. It was taken earlier from a gas station. When they spotted it they called police and began to follow the car.

Witnesses told police the victim and her brother cut off the stolen car and stopped it. That's when the thieves jumped out and opened fire.

The victim was hit at least two times. Her car was riddled with gun shots.

Police are searching for the gunmen.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Washington Post to Cut 80 Newsroom Jobs - New York Times

Washington Post to Cut 80 Newsroom Jobs - New York TimesMarch 11, 2006
Washington Post to Cut 80 Newsroom Jobs

The Washington Post is planning to cut about 80 jobs, or about 9 percent of its newsroom, over the next year, joining a roll call of major American newspapers reducing editorial positions as the industry continues to face a sluggish advertising environment and declining circulation.

"During the past year newspaper revenues have flattened while expenses — particularly newsprint — have continued to rise," Boisfeuillet Jones Jr., the paper's publisher, said in a memo to the staff. Mr. Jones said the cuts would come through buyouts and attrition, not layoffs.

The Post last offered buyouts in late 2003, when it reduced its staff by 7 percent. More people than expected took the buyout, leaving the paper short-staffed and prompting it to rehire, on a temporary contract basis, more than a dozen of the 54 people who had just left.

Leonard Downie Jr., the Post's executive editor, said in an interview that the goal of the latest cuts was to operate more efficiently.

At the same time, the paper wants its journalists to feed more to the newspaper's other outlets, including its Web site, blogs, online chats, television appearances and its new radio news station, which is to start at the end of the month.

"We're not anywhere near maximizing what we can do in our multimedia presentations," Mr. Downie said. "We're trying to have us all think in a different way, not that we're newspaper people but journalists."

The multimedia demands already have some journalists worried about being stretched too thin to provide material for the paper, from which the spinoffs derive.

"They want us to spend more and more time supporting these other platforms but they are all derivative of the reporting we're doing for the paper," said Rick Weiss, a science reporter at The Post and co-chairman for the Post unit of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild. "If we don't dredge up the news, we have nothing to pass on. But we have less and less time to do that dredging."

Mr. Downie said he recognized the concern but did not see a problem.

"By and large it does not take a whole lot of time to talk on the radio or do an early draft of your story for the Internet," he said.

The goal is to eliminate about 80 full-time positions, Mr. Downie said. The paper has nearly 900 newsroom employees, close to its peak employment of just over 900.

Mr. Downie said other cost savings could come from having foreign correspondents cover broad topics — terrorism, say — rather than cover specific countries, thus allowing for the elimination of some foreign bureaus. He said the paper remained committed to covering the war in Iraq and would "absolutely not" pull back from its Baghdad bureau.

He said the paper might merge operations in certain Maryland suburbs, where, he said, it has been clear that some readers will always read The Post and others will always read The Baltimore Sun and there was no point in going to extra lengths to try to make them switch.

The Post has been a rare bird among big newspapers. More diversified than many newspaper companies — it owns Kaplan Inc., a profitable test-preparation and education service — the Washington Post Company had avoided the buyouts taking place over the last year at other papers, including The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. But the gains at Kaplan have been offset by losses in print publishing.

This month, The Post reported revenue of $252.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2005, down 3 percent from a year earlier. Its advertising revenue fell 7 percent in the quarter, partly because of one less reporting week in 2005 compared with 2004. Daily circulation dropped 4.3 percent, to an average 694,100 in 2005; Sunday circulation fell 4.1 percent, to 969,000.

Mr. Downie said that while still strong, circulation had dropped in Fairfax and Montgomery Counties, home to some of Washington's most affluent and fastest-growing suburbs. "We're concerned about them," he said, attributing the decline in part to a rise in non-English-speaking immigrants and to more readers going online.

Despite the pending loss of jobs, Mr. Weiss said the atmosphere in the newsroom was not doom and gloom but a recognition that things elsewhere were worse. "Everyone realizes the industry is changing fast, for better or worse," he said, "and staying the same isn't an option."

Saturday, March 11, 2006

China Points an Accusatory Finger Back at the U.S.

China Points an Accusatory Finger Back at the U.S.China Points an Accusatory Finger Back at the U.S.
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March 09, 2006

China Points an Accusatory Finger Back at the U.S.
IOL, South Africa's largest news and information site on the Web, reports that China has lashed out in response to United States criticism of its human rights record. Racial discrimination, the Chinese point out, is still rife in America.

This retort came one day after the U.S. state department attacked the Chinese government's human rights record, saying it "remained poor, and [that] the government continued to commit numerous and serious abuses."

The US report also said there was increased repression in 2005, with a trend toward "increased harassment, detention, and imprisonment" of people seen as threats to the Chinese government. Also mentioned in the report were Chinese measures designed to more tightly control print, broadcast and electronic media, and censor online content.

China's cabinet issued an immediate response, denouncing the United States for widespread discrimination against minorities, especially blacks, and pointed out that Blacks are given heavier criminal penalties, arrested more frequently and are more likely to be targeted for hate crimes. American treatement of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba also received mention.

You can read more about the U.S. state department's accusations and the Chinese response on the IOL website.

Stanley Crouch: Parks' self-respect - The Sacramento Bee

Stanley Crouch: Parks' self-respect - The Sacramento BeeStanley Crouch: Parks' self-respect
By Stanley Crouch
Published 2:15 am PST Saturday, March 11, 2006
Within three days after a minstrel show interrupted the Oscars ceremony but wasn't noticed, Gordon Parks died. Three 6 Mafia's elegy to the difficulty of living off women, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," was awarded the Oscar for best song before a predominately white audience of wealthy media types who work before and behind the camera. The grand irony is one of those that resonate with particular clarity in our time.

Gordon Parks was 93 when he died and had made a career for himself that was, at almost every step, a repudiation of the minstrel imagery that had burdened black Americans since the middle of the 19th century, composed equally of contempt and low expectations. The last of 15 children born into poverty in Kansas, Parks, a high school dropout, had made himself into a highly sophisticated man - a professional photographer, a writer, a composer and a film director.

Parks attributed his drive and the variety of ways in which he developed his talent to the curiosity, discipline and religious faith instilled by his family, especially his mother, who taught him piano and glued wings to his dreams.

It was always the goal of Parks to disprove stereotypes by countering them with excellence. Since he was always ready to laugh if the conversation provided the room for it, Parks might have just as well been contemplating a meal his mother used to cook as pondering the difficulties of aesthetic technique or the tragic weight of social issues.

Born in 1912, Parks had lived through the Great Depression and World War II and was the first Negro photographer for Life magazine, and shot for Vogue during the black revolt against segregation, unconstitutional laws and bigoted treatment. The "Negro Revolution," as it was called, brought light and darkness, dividing the social and cultural sky.

The light came with the rejection of stereotypes and a bigger, more open area of social possibility. The darkness was the minstrel reiteration that appeared with a vengeance, as blaxploitation films following Parks' own "Shaft" set aside the photographer's black detective in favor of the black hustler, like "Superfly," the celebration of a cocaine dealer. For years, because Hollywood was in trouble, cheap, empty-headed black films about pimps, hustlers and cartoon revolutionaries were made.

They turned a profit, got Hollywood back on its feet and were summarily rejected as American popular film returned to the snow village.

That Parks had become an answer to all stereotypes and low expectations by mastering the English language, the camera, film technique and by deporting himself with absolute elegance and taste must have made him an anachronism to those who believe that buffoons like Three 6 Mafia represent anything other than the descent of black popular music into blaxploitation with a backbeat.

Parks was not made in a factory that manufactures stupidity and the hatred of women, projected by puppets of exaggeration wearing diamonds in their teeth. He made himself, with all of the discipline necessary, which is why even Malcolm X recognized his integrity.

Parks was also one of the founders of Essence. Were he alive, the magazine's well-received war against the kind of minstrelsy seen at the Academy Awards would not have fizzled. Parks never forgot the honor of women like his mother and his sisters. That is why he would have kept the heat on, which is but one of the many reasons why we miss him.

Split Verdict Ends Trial of Ex-Mayor of Atlanta - New York Times

Split Verdict Ends Trial of Ex-Mayor of Atlanta - New York TimesMarch 11, 2006
Split Verdict Ends Trial of Ex-Mayor of Atlanta

ATLANTA, March 10 — After a five-year investigation that culminated in a two-month-long trial, it took the jury hearing the federal corruption case against former Mayor William C. Campbell only two days to find him not guilty of perhaps the most serious charges against him: racketeering and bribery.

But Mr. Campbell was found guilty of three counts of tax evasion, and for that he could serve up to nine years in jail and pay up to $300,000 in fines. If he had been convicted of all seven counts against him, he could have spent more than 50 years in prison.

The verdict was a bittersweet ending for both sides. Prosecutors had hoped to end their seven-year crusade against corruption in City Hall by convicting its top official. It was an investigation that ultimately convicted 10 people who were contractors and city officials, many of them close associates of Mr. Campbell.

"Obviously I have great regrets that the jury found me guilty of anything," Mr. Campbell said after the verdict. "But there's no doubt I've been vindicated with regard to any allegations of corruption."

He said sloppy recordkeeping, rather than any desire to hide ill-gotten gains, was behind underreported income on his tax returns.

Mr. Campbell was smiling as he stood beside his wife, Sharon, outside the courthouse. As he answered reporters' questions, people drove by honking and cheering.

"It was a fair trial," Mr. Campbell added. "The judge was fair."

W. Fred Orr II, one of the defense lawyers, said he was disappointed with the outcome of the trial.

"We knew there were some technical violations of the tax code," Mr. Orr said. "They're serious, but we're going to be O.K."

Sally Q. Yates, first assistant United States attorney in Atlanta and lead counsel for the prosecution, echoed Mr. Orr's sentiments.

"I'm personally somewhat disappointed," Ms. Yates said. "I think it would be a little foolish for me to stand out here and try to pretend otherwise. I'm disappointed the jury didn't feel they had enough evidence to find him guilty of the RICO count," she said, referring to the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization Act, which provides for extended punishment for those found guilty of running criminal enterprises.

In a prepared statement, David E. Nahmias, United States attorney for the northern district of Georgia, declared victory, saying, "The jury's verdict today confirms that Mayor Bill Campbell was also a criminal."

Mr. Nahmias also said he fully expected Mr. Campbell to go to prison on the tax evasion convictions.

The 43-page indictment against Mr. Campbell detailed bribes and illegal campaign contributions in excess of $250,000. During the trial, prosecutors painted him as a high-stakes gambler who took frequent trips to places like Las Vegas and Reno, Nev., and Tunica, Miss., often in the company of his mistresses.

The expenses of these lavish vacations, the prosecutors said, were always paid with cash that Mr. Campbell got from the city contractors he used as "human A.T.M.'s." They said he raised money to retire campaign debt after he was elected to a second term, but instead of using the money to pay off his creditors, he used the account as a slush fund for his personal expenses. Prosecutors also sought to prove his extensive use of straw donors to launder illegal campaign contributions.

As federal marshals escorted members of the jury to their cars, one juror said in answer to shouted questions, "It's been a long seven weeks."

Gentrification Changing Face of New Atlanta - New York Times

Gentrification Changing Face of New Atlanta - New York TimesMarch 11, 2006
Gentrification Changing Face of New Atlanta

ATLANTA, March 8 — In-town living. Live-work-play. Mixed income. The buzzwords of soft-core urbanism are everywhere these days in this eternally optimistic city, used in real estate advertisements and mayoral boasts to lure money from the suburbs and to keep young people from leaving.

Loft apartments roll onto the market every week, the public housing authority is a nationally recognized pioneer in redevelopment and the newest shopping plaza has one Target and three Starbucks outlets.

But although gentrification has expanded the city's tax base and weeded out blight, it has had an unintended effect on Atlanta, long a lure to African-Americans and a symbol of black success. For the first time since the 1920's, the black share of the city's population is declining and the white percentage is on the rise.

The change has introduced an element of uncertainty into local politics, which has been dominated by blacks since 1973, when Atlanta became the first major Southern city to elect a black mayor.

Some, like Mayor Shirley Franklin, who is serving her second and final term, play down the significance of the change, saying that the city — now 54 percent black — will remain progressive and that voters here do not strictly adhere to racial lines. Others warn of the dilution, if not the demise, of black power.

"It's certainly affecting local politics," said Billy Linville, a political consultant who has worked for Ms. Franklin. "More white politicians are focusing on possibly becoming mayor and positioning themselves accordingly, whereas in the past they would not have. The next mayor of Atlanta, I believe, will be African-American, but after that it may get very interesting."

The changes do not mean that Atlanta has lost its magnetism for blacks. Twenty-year projections show the percentage of African-Americans continuing to inch upward in the 10-county metropolitan area. Blacks already hold the majority on the Clayton County commission, and they are gaining footholds in counties like Cobb and Gwinnett.

But the city itself, a small splotch of fewer than half a million residents in a galaxy of sprawl, is now attracting the affluent, who are mostly white, in part because they want to avoid gear-grinding commutes that are among the nation's longest.

In that sense, demographers say, the shift is driven by class rather than race. In 1990, the per capita income in the city of Atlanta was below that of the metropolitan area as a whole, but in 2004 it was 28 percent higher, the largest such shift in the country, according to a University of Virginia urban planning study.

So rapid is the explosion of wealth that Ms. Franklin recently tried to impose a moratorium on McMansions, new houses bloated far beyond the size of their older neighbors.

According to census figures, non-Hispanic blacks went from a high of 66.8 percent of Atlanta's population in 1990 to 61 percent in 2000 and to 54 percent in 2004. In the same time period, non-Hispanic whites went from 30.3 percent to 35 percent. The 2004 figures are estimates.

Even the Old Fourth Ward, the once elegant black neighborhood where Martin Luther King Jr. was born, is now less than 75 percent black, down from 94 percent in 1990, as houses have skyrocketed in value and low-rent apartments have been replaced by new developments.

"There could be a time in the not-too-distant future when the black population is below half of the city population, if this trend continues," said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington research group.

Atlanta's upward shift in its white population is atypical, Mr. Frey said. Although many other cities have embarked on revitalization programs, only Washington is seeing a similar, if less stark, racial trend as Atlanta. More often, blacks and whites both are losing ground to a surging Latino population. Even in Atlanta, the Latino population rose to 26,100 in 2004 from 18,700 in 2000.

Most mayors would see a physical revitalization like Atlanta's as an accomplishment. The city has led the country, rivaled only by Chicago, in the race to replace public housing projects with mixed-income developments.

Housing has also mushroomed in places where it had not previously existed. The most ambitious project, Atlantic Station, a shopping and residential district on the site of a former steel mill near downtown, will have more than 2,000 units. Loft prices start at $160,000.

But critics say Mayor Franklin and her predecessor, Bill Campbell, betrayed their voter base by not doing enough to keep Atlanta affordable for poor blacks as property taxes increase and landlords sell out to developers.

"It's clear as the nose on your face who it's going to impact the most," said Joe Beasley, the human resources director at an Atlanta church and a member of the city's Gentrification Task Force, now defunct, which studied ways to ease the effects of rising property taxes and housing prices. "Bill Campbell was cutting his own throat, and Shirley Franklin is continuing to cut her own throat."

Ms. Franklin counters that many new developments, including Atlantic Station, have set aside areas for low-income or affordable housing. She says one of her major accomplishments, financing a badly needed overhaul of the sewage and water system without a large increase in rates, has kept city living affordable. But the bottom line, in the mayor's view, is that the city must try to mold development where it can.

"We're constantly seeking a balance in what we support," Ms. Franklin said last week in a telephone interview.

David Bositis, a senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington group that studies black issues, said he viewed the change as largely positive. "I don't know that it ever was a good thing when you had cities that were becoming viewed as black cities," Mr. Bositis said.

He added, "People said, 'This is our city now,' but half the time you looked at what was there and you said, 'Who cares?' "

Race is not the only factor in the political equation.

"We're talking about an era in which you see a conservative trend among certain sectors of the black community," said William Boone, a political science professor at Clark Atlanta University, a predominantly African-American institution. "That's going to have some impact on who's offered for mayor."

Power in Atlanta has always involved coalitions of blacks and other groups, said Ms. Franklin, who has received high marks for restoring credibility to city government and who was re-elected in 2005 with 91 percent of the vote.

"This whole notion that the sky is falling, I don't see it," Ms. Franklin said. "To me the question is, Will Atlanta be a progressive city, given that it's the home of the civil rights movement, the home of the historically black colleges? Will that continue with the demographic shifts? And my answer is yes."

Already, the change has had unpredictable effects. Kwanza Hall is a young black politician from the rapidly gentrifying Old Fourth Ward, a neighborhood that is part of a mostly white City Council district that includes affluent areas like Inman Park. But in the last election, Mr. Hall, who ran his campaign from a year-old coffee shop next to a soon-to-open men's spa, defeated two whites for an open seat.

To Joe Stewardson, who owns the coffee shop building and was the first white president of the ward's community development corporation, the question was not Mr. Hall's race but his ability to forge relationships outside a neighborhood whose boundary was, not too long ago, what Mr. Stewardson called "an iron curtain."

"You would not have seen that," Mr. Stewardson said, "if this neighborhood had not changed so much."

Brenda Goodman contributed reporting for this article.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Carter criticizes Iraq war - Conflict in Iraq -

Carter criticizes Iraq war - Conflict in Iraq - MSNBC.comCarter urges U.S. troop drawdown in Iraq
Ex-president criticizes war as U.S. enters its fourth year of conflict in Iraq
The Associated Press
Updated: 3:37 a.m. ET March 9, 2006

SEATTLE - Former President Jimmy Carter criticized the war in Iraq on Wednesday, urging a troop drawdown as the United States enters its fourth year of conflict in Iraq.

“It was a completely unnecessary war. It was an unjust war,” said Carter, the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner. “It was initiated on the basis of false pretenses. All of those are true, but we can’t just pre-emptively withdraw.”

He urged the Bush administration to bring home as many troops as possible within the next 12 months.

“The violence is increasing monthly,” Carter said. “My prayer is we’ll see some kind of democracy eventually evolve.”

His comments came at a news conference before a building dedication at the University of Washington.

Carter was the keynote speaker at the dedication of the university’s new Genome Sciences and Bioengineering Building in honor of William H. Foege. Foege directed the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during Carter’s presidency and later headed The Carter Center, which promotes peace and health programs around the world.

Carter credited Foege with saving the lives of millions of people through his efforts to eradicate smallpox, Guinea worm and river blindness, and by encouraging childhood immunization.

Foege works with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which contributed $50 million for the building.
© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

New York Daily News - Home - Stanley Crouch: How dare they try to copyright the N-word

New York Daily News - Home - Stanley Crouch: How dare they try to copyright the N-word

One of the most repulsively fascinating facts about contemporary black popular culture is how it continues to reach fresh lows. It finds new ways of leaping all fences that would bar it from falling into a bottomless pit of tastelessness. All of the insults and burdens of minstrelsy have been bested by black comedians and rappers who have made stupidity, hedonism, pimping, misogyny, pornography and violence their stock in trade.

One defense of this amoral sense of life and culture is that black people didn't invent any of it, so why shouldn't they, like the white people, be able to make big money from it? As one imbecilic black man in television said to me, "I ain't hating on these brothers. All they are doing is dealing with a market the same way that the white people do. This is capitalism and they're responding to a market. You know the old saying, 'Whatever the market will bear.' "

Now we find that comedian Damon Wayans has spent the past 14 months trying to copyright the N-word with "iggas" instead of "iggers." He wants to put it on apparel and whatnot. So far, he has not been successful but one can imagine young American kids wearing that word emblazoned on clothes and listening to rap "songs" in which the N-word frequently appears, in conjunction with "bitches" and "hos," among other denigrations.

Of course, there is a defense. One Hollywood Negro said that "Damon is no fool. He might be pulling a Brer Rabbit move that would mean that he would take control of the word and make everyone pay to use it."

I responded rappers and others would merely put the cost in the budget. The Hollywood guy agreed.

However this comes out, it is further proof of how remarkably decadent our moment is. On the one hand, opportunistic numbskulls use the rhetoric of free speech and the liberal arts to justify the thick presence of misogyny and insult in their material, meaning that constantly referring to women as bitches and hos is an expression of their artistry and their freedom of speech. So is the constant screaming of the N-word.

Now we have a comedian attempting to copyright the N-word so that everyone who uses it will have to pay him for the right. I guess that takes its place right next to John Singleton, Spike Lee and Will Smith supporting the dehumanizing "Hustle & Flow." In the world of entertainment, the siren call of the commercial, however hollow and denigrating, seems impossible for many to resist, a fact that transcends all ethnic, sexual and religious distinctions.

When Essence magazine began a campaign against the prevalence of misogyny and insult in rap material, literally hundreds of thousands voiced their approval. This proved that this product is disgusting to millions of black women and their supporters. Unfortunately, the most important movement in popular culture since the emergence of rap itself floundered. Essence let the campaign fizzle after editor Diane Weathers, who shaped the magazine's response to popular muck, left the magazine.

If Damon Wayans wins his quest for ownership of the N-word, one wonders to whom - if any - he will have to answer.

Originally published on February 27, 2006

New York Daily News - News & Views Columnists - Stanley Crouch: Hip hop exhibit sure to sugarcoat the hate

New York Daily News - News & Views Columnists - Stanley Crouch: Hip hop exhibit sure to sugarcoat the hate

According to rap mogul Russell Simmons, hip hop is "the only real description of the suffering of our people." Well, not quite. Perhaps Simmons is referring to those early rap recordings that made political complaints. But the bulk of what we know is that rap itself is part of the suffering of black people.

This arrives through a media that has been bamboozled into thinking the expression of "black culture" can be reduced to gold teeth, pistol-waving, hedonism, whorishness, pathological narcissism, misogyny, drop-down pants and illiteracy. In context, Simmons was quoted as he addressed a New York press conference to announce that the Smithsonian Institution is collecting materials for a future rap exhibit in Washington.

This is not especially surprising, given the fact that the Metropolitan Museum of Art genuflected before the world of rock 'n' roll. The museum presented in 1999 the exhibit "Rock Style." It was "made possible" by Tommy Hilfiger, Conde Nast and the Estee Lauder combine.

We can now fall back on our most cynical responses to contemporary phenomena and say, as so many do, "If there is enough money involved, anything is possible."

Make no mistake, what we always see in our time is the demand for respectability. It seems to have had a price on its head for a while now. When Elvis Presley and the early rock 'n' roll bunch appeared, they knew what they were and so did their fans: entertainers followed by teenagers. With the '60s came all of the pretensions and college students, assuming that whatever they liked should get the same credibility as what adults appreciated. We then saw the arrival of rock magazines.

It did not take long for the hustlers in rap to get the drift. Defend your product against charges of obscenity by saying it is "reporting from the streets." Take the position that being repulsed by the gangsta lifestyle and philosophy is no more than cultural racism. Soon, insecure black academics began to champion this "art form" on our campuses. Of course, those campuses had already been wounded by courses in rock 'n' roll.

One wonders how much time the Smithsonian will devote to the many murders, shooting and violence surrounding rap. Will there be autopsy pictures of Tupac Shakur and others? One also wonders if visitors to the exhibit will learn about the major campaign against the worst of hip hop that fizzled under exceedingly poor leadership at Essence magazine.

Both sides of the story are demanded in many places, but almost never in the world of popular muck. Especially if it makes black hustlers wealthy.

Originally published on March 2, 2006